The busiest day on the roads this Christmas…

With millions of us travelling to see friends and family over the festive season, the UK’s road networks can be filled to capacity on one or two key dates over the holidays. The dates change each year, depending on when Christmas Day falls, so transport planners and road users alike need to plan well ahead.

Friday December 21st

According to a survey by the AA of around 20,000, most people are planning to travel on Friday December 21st. For many people, this will be the last day in the office; the kids have broken up from school, and everyone is hitting the roads to get to their families for a full weekend ahead of Christmas. So, what does that mean for the road network?


Nearly 60% of those surveyed said they would be on the roads on the 21st, which means the network has to cope with far more traffic than usual – even for a Friday. Drivers should expect their journeys to take longer than usual and be prepared to sit in traffic jams. There are several areas on high-traffic motorways where roadworks are still in progress, with 50 mph restrictions and these are likely to be high points of congestion.

What to do

  • Do you really have to travel on Friday? If you do, can you leave earlier to avoid the later traffic caused by people finishing work early or travelling straight from the school pick-up? Would it matter if you left early on Saturday morning instead of on Friday afternoon? For longer journeys, setting off early in the morning can take a lot of the hassle out of the journey, and still get you to your destination at a reasonable time.
  • Check current traffic conditions before you leave. Google Maps has a function where you can say what time you’d like to arrive at your destination, and it tells you when you might leave in order to get there on time.
  • Make sure that, as well as the Christmas presents, the food, the wrapping paper, the booze and the overnight bags, you pack anything you might need in the event of a breakdown. Join a breakdown service or, if you’re already a member, make sure you have your membership card with you.
  • If there is something wrong with you vehicle on the motorway, try to take the next exit off the motorway, or go into a services area if that’s closer. If you can’t do that, pull over onto the hard shoulder, put your hazard lights on and get out of the vehicle – preferably by the doors closest to the embankment. Call your breakdown service – you can do this from your mobile phone or from one of the emergency phones on the side of the motorway.

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